On this day, three years ago, we watched the MMA equivalent of “The Room” in the form of Bellator 149. Let’s take a rewind.
February 19, 2016, was the date of the biggest Bellator card in their 11-year history, as well as the biggest debacle in the company’s history to this date. The card, which took place at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, was notable for having two freakshow matchups in the main and co-main slots. Those fights being the trilogy fight between Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie as the main event, and the grudge match between former street fighters Kimbo Slice and Dada 5000 at the co-main position.
Shamrock and Gracie III is a fight that on paper didn’t look that bad. Shamrock and Gracie are both pioneers of the sport, their bouts at UFC 1 and UFC 5 were huge, and also represented the first real rivalry in the history of the sport. A third bout seemed inevitable at some point. However, all that is thrown out the window when you realize both men were close to the age of 50 when the fight took place. Shamrock was 52, and Gracie was 49.
The fight then went the way that most people should’ve expected, Shamrock and Gracie threw nothing for about two minutes, then clinched. Gracie then used a move that would have made Cheick Kongo proud, and Royce gave Shamrock a nice knee below the belt. The referee didn’t notice, Shamrock went down, and Royce finished the fight with strikes. This was Gracie’s first and only victory via TKO in his career, and to top things off, Ken Shamrock tested positive for steroids after the bout. More shockingly, Royce Gracie didn’t test positive.
In the more dark part of the evening, Kimbo Slice fought Dada 5000. In the moment, the fight was hilarious, Kimbo and Dada gassed out almost immediately and is one of the most laughable fights in MMA history. The bout itself ended after Kimbo landed what seemed like the slowest 25-punch combination in MMA history as Dada was slumped against the fence. Dada then came plodding forward, got hit with a gust of wind, turned away, and fell over. The bout was then called off.
However, all the laughing would soon stop, as it was revealed that Dada had actually almost died following the fight. After allegedly having a heart attack in the cage, Dada was in the hospital for weeks following the fight. Dada 5000 was clearly not in the type of shape that should’ve been sanctioned, and he shouldn’t have been allowed to fight. But thankfully, Dada’s death was avoided, sadly, Kimbo’s wasn’t.
Following the fight, Kimbo Slice was scheduled for a fight with James Thompson in the UK for Bellator 158. Unfortunately, Slice would never make it to the bout, as he would pass away due to heart issues a month prior to the fight. This raised the question of how could Slice pass Texas’ medical tests in order to fight Dada just months prior? Also, how could Bellator sanction a fight between two fighters who clearly should not have been allowed to compete?
Three years later, this card still remains a very dark memory due to the Slice/Dada fight. The reality is that Bellator paid the price on this day three years ago, as they put on two freakshow fights that shouldn’t have been sanctioned. Athletic commissions were put into place following the early UFC events to protect fighters such as Kimbo Slice and Dada 5000, and they both nearly died. In the case of Slice, he did pass away months later.
Sadly, Bellator and the Texas State Athletic Commission didn’t protect them.